Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Salty Taste of Freedom

The Udana is an ancient Buddhist scripture comprised of 80 "inspired utterances" of the Buddha. In section 5.5, the Buddha compares the qualities of his teachings to those of the ocean. I am so enchanted with this passage. In it, he reminds us how we are all connected to the natural elements of the universe and guided, first and foremost by mama ocean. 

"Now," the Buddha continued, "there are 8 wonderful and marvelous qualities in our Dharma wisdom teachings, that are like the wonderful and marvelous qualities of the ocean:

1. Just as the ocean gets deeper very gradually, not suddenly; in the same way, people make progress in Dharma wisdom through a series of small steps, they don’t acquire wisdom suddenly in a single instant.

2. Just as the ocean is stable and stays within the limits of the high-tide line; in the same way, people seeking the Dharma wisdom do not break any of the Rules for leading a Good and Proper life: kindliness, generosity, contentment, truthfulness and careful concentration.

3. Just as dead bodies in the ocean are washed up onto the shore; in the same way, those who in their hearts are not keeping to the Rules for leading a Good and Proper Life are asked to leave the assembly of those seeking wisdom.

4. Just as the great rivers flow into the ocean lose their individual names and become part of the great ocean; in the same way, people of all types of family (rich, poor, different castes, different races) lose their previous identities and all become equal when they take part in the search for wisdom.

5. Just as the level of the ocean does not rise or fall even though many great rivers flow into it and rain drops into it from the sky; in the same way, although many people achieve wisdom by following their own path, the nature of wisdom itself stays exactly the same, perfect and unchanging.



6. Just as the great ocean always everywhere, has one just one taste – the taste of salt; in the same way, the great wisdom always everywhere has just one taste – the taste of freedom.

7. Just as the great ocean contains precious things such as pearls, coral, ruby, gold and silver; in the same way, the great wisdom teachings contain precious things such as: the method for training in kindliness, the method for training in contentment, the method for training in concentration, and the methods for finding the path to Nirvana – peace, wisdom and joy.

8. Just as the ocean is the dwelling place of many wonderful creatures that are hard to imagine, like whales, serpents and beautifully-coloured gigantic fishes; in the same way the great wisdom is the dwelling place of women and men whose holiness and understanding are so great that they are hard to imagine or understand.

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